As I’m sure most of you know by now, it’s Banned Books Week and I’m running a series of blog posts discussing the banning of books to celebrate the event. In the first post, on Monday, I kicked off the series with a short post about the event as well as how and where books are being banned. The second post demonstrated why the banning of books is such a problematic practice with an excursus on an ugly chapter in world history.
In yesterday’s post I concluded that anyone who attempts to (or does) ban books, is trying to indoctrinate others with their own beliefs. Today I want to continue the series by discussing what kind of beliefs those are.
This word cloud put together by the ALA visually highlights the most common reasons for books being challenged.
At first glance it might seem like the banning of books is just a noble and understandable attempt to protect children from content they aren’t ready to face – explicit sex scenes, violence, drug abuse. But a closer look at this graphic reveals that a lot of the reasons cited by challengers aren’t noble at all.
Let’s start with one of the most cited reasons – “religious viewpoint”. We can even connect a few other reasons from the word cloud to that one:
- “mention of Allah”
Excuse me, but did I miss anything? I was under the impression that there was such a thing as religious freedom.
It seems we need to look at the First Amendment again:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Of course, here’s the problem with the First Amendment: it only applies to the government. It prevents discriminating laws, but it doesn’t automatically make religious discrimination illegal. There are lot’s of additional laws against religious discrimination, but they all deal with rather specific situations. There doesn’t seem to be any law that applies in this case – correct me if I’m wrong.
And yet, does that even matter? None of it changes the fact that challenging books because they aren’t in accordance with your own religious beliefs is discrimination. This also serves to prove my point from yesterday’s post – that banning books is an attempt to indoctrinate others with one’s own beliefs.
Questioning their religion? Not acceptable. Not believing in their religion? Not acceptable. Believing in a different religion? Not acceptable.
Here’s the thing – the people who challenge books because of their “religious viewpoint” rightfully demand to be allowed their beliefs and to exercise them freely. But one cannot demand that for oneself while not granting others the same freedom. Hypocrisy much?
A look at the books frequently challenged for their “religious viewpoint” over the past years reveals yet another connection to a reason from the graphic above.
As you can see, an astounding number of the books challenged for “their religious viewpoint” have also been challenged for homosexuality. It is therefore pretty safe to say that the label “religious viewpoint” only serves as a guise for yet another form of discrimination.
People don’t discriminate against people that are like themselves. People discriminate against others because they are different from themselves. Discrimination is therefore firmly linked to diversity.
Coincidence? I think not. Are you still unsure whether you should care that Fifty Shades of Grey might not be available anymore in the library of some remote town in Texas or that the children of some school district you never heard of don’t get to read that one book anymore that you hated back in school?
If the fact that some people are trying to force their beliefs on others by removing access to alternatives doesn’t worry you, then maybe the fact these beliefs are usually bigoted and hateful should.
5 Challenged Diverse Books You Should Read by Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku
Dealing With The Naughty Books In Your Life by Lilyn @ Sci-Fi & Scary
2016 Banned Books Week: Spotlight on Diversity by 4thhouseontheleft
Banned Books Week: The Color Purple (Review) by Lost In A Good Book
Are you participating in Banned Books Week? What do you think about banning books?
What are your favorite diverse and banned books?